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HAN DYNASTY

The Han empire began in 206 B.C. when rebel leader named Liu Bang defeated the Qin army, and as a result, he overtook the throne as Emperor Gaozu. The end of the Qin was part of a larger rebellion that began after the First Emperor's death. The tyranny of Qin's leaders and their Legalist standings were no longer being tolerated by its people. According to traditional Chinese history, the Han amended its form of governing to include a doctrine of Confucian principles, which stressed unity of father/son/family, and the worship of its ancestors. In effect, the Han was noted for its expanding of national territory and for promoting its literature and arts.

The Han, under one of its many rulers, Wu Ti (140 87 B.C.) succeeded to unify China by expanding its military prowess across the borders of other regions of Asia, diminishing the powers of imperial nobility. Eventually, Wu Ti moved the capital from Xi'an to Luoyang in the east, forging an era called the Eastern Han.

However, there are records to indicate that there were two Han Dynasties, each being repudiated by the other Han descendents. The Early Han (Western) dates 207 - 25 AD, and history books suggest that at the demise of the ruler Yuan Ti (in 32 B.C.?), his widow used her influence to appoint family members, and eventually a nephew, Wang Mang was made emperor, forming the Xin (New Dynasty?). However, that was short-lived (22 AD), when Mang was killed in an uprising, to be succeeded by Kuang-wu Ti in 23 AD, forging the the second Han era called Later Han Restoration (Eastern) from AD 23 -220.

Confucius theory became part of the Legalist form of governing. For example, administrators and other students were educated through a newly established Imperial Academy, where students were to study a variety of Confucian classics, and other courses to end in an examination. If the student passed the exam, he was appointed to a governing post. If the student had failed the exam, he was likely beheaded. This course of exams became known as the start of the civil service examination system.

Wealthy families began to advance in education, and to a degree, became historians in their own right...with the creation of an encyclopedia and other works. With the support of Wu Ti, A well-known historian, Sima Qian, created the first great work, called the Historical Records, that would become a standard model for the next 2,000 years.

During the Han, a trade route called the Silk Road was built to expand trade between China and the Roman Empire. The Silk Road actually consisted of more than one possible route through the mountains that the traders followed. Agriculture grew with the development of better tools. Harvesting silkworms and weaving silk for trade was important to the Han's economy.  Additionally iron and salt were big commodities during this era. This helped create a mass of wealth among traders, eventually forming a surplus system, however, it failed shortly after its was instituted.

The second Han Dynasty had much success with their foreign policy. Part of this success was due more to luck than to anything the Han did. The Hsiung nu who had previously been one of the most dangerous enemies of the Chinese were defeated by the Hsien-pi and the Wu-huan. Half of the Hsiung nu moved south, and became part of the Chinese empire. The Hsiung nu appeared to be trying to reunite and form a large empire comprising all of Turkestan. Thus, in 73 A.D. the Chinese began a campaign in Turkestan. The whole of Turkestan was quickly conquered which would have ensured a trading monopoly, however, the emperor Ming Ti died and Chang Ti became emperor. He favored an isolationist policy so that much of what was gained in Turkestan was now lost. Pan Ch'ao, the deputy commander who had led the invasion, stayed in Turkestan to try and hold onto what had been won, and eventually in 89 A.D. a new emperor came to power with a renewed interest in holding Turkestan. Despite this military success, economic and political struggles arose within China. Internal struggles for power taxed the peasants, until in 184 A.D. when another peasant uprising occurred. This movement was begun by the Yellow Turbans. This uprising served to unite the factions who had previously been fighting one another because they needed to unite to defeat the Yellow Turbans. Despite conquering them, China did not return to a united state. Rather, three kingdoms emerged and the Han dynasty came to an end.

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Dynasties of Asia
Fine Antiques from China, Japan, Korea and all of Asia.
Bronze, Pottery, Porcelain, Jade, Silks, Jewelry Boxes, Antique Chinese Paintings, Wood Carvings, Chinese Antique Furniture and more.

For additional history and background, click the links below.

Xia Dynasty     Shang Dynasty    Zhou Dynasty   Qin Dynasty     Han Dynasty   
Three Kingdoms    T'sin Dynasty       Sui Dynasty     T'ang Dynasty     Five Dynasties
Song Dynasty     Liao Dynasty    Yuan Dynasty     Ming Dynasty    Qing Dynasty

 

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